Design

These custom “cat-binets” have hidden play spaces for feline friends

It all started when they couldn’t find Hennessey.

The 3-year-old cat had been enjoying the nooks and crawlspaces created when Frank Prendergast of Neoform Cabinetry began renovating the kitchen in Debbie Oudekirk’s condo. At any given time, all four of her cats could be found lounging on, creeping in, or jumping off the upper and lower cabinetry.

Then one day, Frank arrived to a search-and-rescue mission of sorts: Hennessy was missing. Apparently, he’d spotted a missing ceiling tile and pounced on the opportunity to explore the dark space, intrigued by what looked like a new tunnel to explore. After hours of cajoling with treats, he lumbered out none the worse for wear. But Frank knew something had to be done for these curious cats. He knew that the four ragdoll cats — Dewey, Guiness, Hennessey, and Murphy — needed a dedicated crawl space.

The 1,300-square-foot condo offered an opportunity for the long-time cabinetmaker to flex his problem-solving skills and create something entirely new: a custom cabinet for cats. Debbie had already mentioned an awkward, under-utilized area near the entry of her McLeod Street condo; since buying in 2002, she’s been customizing the space to maximize the unique layout of the third-floor unit, which includes a bedroom and a loft. An entryway alcove located between the coat closet and the main bathroom offered the perfect canvas for Frank’s creation.

Photos by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

 

“I wanted to make a cabinet system for storage while incorporating a play area for the cats,” says Frank. “I had to come up with a design that incorporated two structures in one.”

Key to the design are two distinct spaces: the front, with doors and drawers and open nooks used for books and keys and hats, and the back, the “cat only” space, unseen in these photos, where a series of perches, steps, and even a burlap hammock keeps the critters entertained.

Debbie and Frank agree the cat condo improved the condo drastically. The colours — inspired by Debbie’s collection of Mud Australia ceramics — also brighten the home. Asked why he chose to set the boxes at an angle, Frank said: “I’m not one to do anything straight. I’m tired of the typical. And I wanted to make you look twice.”

The mirrored sliding door continues the playful theme. With semicircular mirrors framed in the matching hue of blue, together the elements create a striking statement wall. The project also came out of a rejection of typical cat furniture — the carpet-wrapped towers.

“You spend all this money on your house, then you put ugly stuff for your cat? Doesn’t make sense,” says Frank.